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You are to examine all of the National Intelligence Estimate document, paying particular attention to the conclusions reached in the document and the assessments made by the CIA on the strength of the Communist forces.
You are to submit a 4-page (approximately 1,000-word) essay analyzing the contents of the
document.Footnotes or endnotes are not required for this assignment, simply put the page number of the Report in brackets after a quotation.
No bibliography is necessary, but you must include one full reference to the Report somewhere in your essay. This is not a research essay, and so there is no need to consult or refer to other references
The purpose of the assignment is to give you the opportunity of examining a primary source.
Historians do this regularly but it is very similar to reading raw intelligence. Your goal is to
demonstrate that you can analyze a single, primary source effectively.
Your assignment must have a thesis or central argument, backed up by evidence – in this case,
evidence will come from the single primary source. In defending your thesis, you should draw from
across the document and not confine your use of evidence to just one section. You don’t want to just
summarize the source or describe its contents. To devise an argument, try the following steps:
1. After reading the document in full and making note of interesting passages, try and answer
the question – so what?
2. This should initially lead you to describe what the document tells you the same as if you were the US government in 1967. The difference for you is that you know what happens next, so
you need to think about what the problem here was.
3. The next task is to attempt to pick apart the document and devise an argument and think
about what sections you’ll use to prove it.
As you work through things, you might find it helpful when thinking about the primary source (or reading it) to keep in mind the following questions/thoughts :
How did the author reach their conclusion?
Do they make any assumptions?
Are the conclusions based on sound evidence or founded on assumptions?
Does culture play a role in the document, i.e. views about Vietcong, U.S. etc?
Is information missing that could help?
What are the biggest drawbacks/benefits to such a document?
What can’t this document tell the consumer (government)?

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